To Improve the Malaysian Economy: Stop Pissing Others Off

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The problem with we Malaysian as I have seen over the years irrespective the country is under Barisan or Pakatan ruling is that we all practice double standards. Image source: Reddit

For example, we want other countries to send back the wanted Malaysian 1MDB fugitive known as Jho Low to face the prosecutions in Malaysian courts but we keep an Indian fugitive from deportation to face the prosecutions in Indian courts. We say the world can expect a fair trial in Malaysia (we even guarantee it) but we are quick to cast doubts and condemn other country’s justice system.

We want other countries to respect the international treaties as such the one on Jammu & Kashmir but when faced with similar decision, we make a huge protest & back paddled from following international treaties. One fine example is ICERD which provides a framework of conditions for countries to follow to eliminate racial discrimination. Interestingly out of 197 countries, 179 countries have ratified or acceded to the ICERD. We hate corruption and yet we give celebrity status to politicians known to be involved in corruption & undergoing trials.

Anyway, in recent months, there have been a lot of frictions with India which started the talks of boycotts that will impact our economy. Please read these related posts:-

We have yet to brace the full economy impact of the boycott if the boycott does go through but rest assured there will be collateral damage. That is why I felt that it was kind of strange to read this recent statement from the PM in waiting Anwar Ibrahim:-

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today said he would focus on strengthening the Malaysian economy to improve people’s lives.

Anwar, who is also the Port Dickson MP, said it was difficult for the government to realise initiatives such as giving aid to the B40 group, National Higher Education Fund Corporation education loan and health services to the people without “encouraging” economic growth.

Anwar also urged PKR leaders in the government not to be afraid to criticise or speak up for a more effective government.

He said the PKR leaders must always remember and hold on to the ideals of the struggle of PKR set to champion the welfare of the people.

(Source)

It sounded strange because doesn’t this what the Government of the day suppose to do at the end of the day – strengthening the Malaysian economy to improve people’s lives? But if you see in the recent months, it seems like we are working hard on the opposite direction and end up weakening the Malaysian economy.

First we had a junior Minister running loose dictating how business should be run. The Government should facilitate businesses but not tell them how to run their businesses. Earlier the Government perhaps under pressure from the taxi drivers made new rules to e-hailing sector which made it tough for the e-hailing drivers to work.

This is expected to make availability of drivers low during peak hours and make cost of e-hailing to rise. We also stopped new recruitment of barbers from India but somehow left other foreign barbers to flourish. Then of course we had the infamous cheesing off of the Indians at UN on Jammu & Kashmir.

Now it looks like we are moving the cheesing off the Americans as well with these provocative statements.

First was this:-

Malaysia has no choice but to close bank accounts of Iranian individuals and companies here, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

He said Malaysia was “forced to do it by certain quarters”.

“Our ties are very strong with Tehran. But, we face very strong pressures from certain quarters which you may guess.

“And, it is very difficult (not to comply) because we receive threats about closing our banks abroad. It’s a kind of bullying by very powerful people,” Dr Mahathir told reporters after chairing the 2019 National Students Consultative Council (MPPK) meeting here.

(Source)

One that shall not be named, huh?

And then this:-

Malaysia and its regional neighbours can take a leaf from US President Donald Trump’s playbook on dealing with troublesome trade partners who threaten to stop buying their products, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said at the Asean Business and Investment Summit (ABIS 2019) here today.

The prime minister said the regional bloc of 10 countries with its combined population of 650 million people — about half of China’s total population — was a formidable and significant market.

(Source)

Something about this recent bank account closures does not add up, don’t you think?

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After all, some of these Iranians who had their accounts closed abruptly recently had accounts for past 10 years and had no problem with the Malaysian banks until now. So why now in 2019 and after Pakatan took over, these Iranians having their bank accounts closed all the sudden? Did Malaysian Government screwed up and the US is pissed off with us? Look at the impact of US sanctions on Iran and imagine the same on Malaysia – image source: Al Jazeera

Or is it because it is known that these bank accounts are being used for the wrong reasons? For money laundering and to finance terrorism acts? Or there more to the Iranian story than we know?

“Malaysia is the meeting point between various terrorist organizations and the Iranians,” an Israeli official says. “Malaysia is a convenient place for communication, organization and training for various terror groups and states hostile to Israel. It’s a place where they share technologies and plot operations.”

Israeli sources say that over the past 10 years, dozens of terrorist operatives have entered Malaysia to train and use it as a base of operations. In 2012, Hamas operatives trained there for abductions, anti-aircraft fire and sniper fire; in 2014, Israeli security forces operating in the West Bank arrested Majdi Mafraha, who confessed that he had been trained in Malaysia for Hamas’ cyber division; in 2015, two Hamas officials were reported to be running Hamas activity in Malaysia as emissaries of the organization.

(Source)

Or is simply generalisation of all foreigners without proper consideration? What if they are here for legitimate reasons and they need the bank accounts to receive money transfer, pay for rental, food and bills? And it seems like it is not only affecting Iranians but other foreigners as well as alleged in an online petition:-

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

(Source)

And obviously the direction is coming from Washington:-

Reports said on Wednesday that banks in Malaysia are closing the accounts of Iranian individuals and companies, what is believed to be a measure linked to sanctions imposed by Washington against Teheran.

(Source)

And whilst we calling the Americans as bullies (at least indirectly), one need to remember that from Washington point of view, they are just enforcing sanctions that have been in place since the start. This is nothing new and same goes for them pushing other countries to enforce Washington sanctions as well. It is not only in Malaysia, the banks in Singapore are also closing the bank account for Iranians.

And finally the call by Dr M to also threaten to stop buying US products in order to break the sanction, the question is can we afford it and if yes, for how long? Even giants like China and India in the end have to make peace with the Americans, so who are we, a ciku country heavily dependant on trade to do the same?

We seriously need to stop pissing others off and focus on the issues at hand – strengthening the Malaysian economy to improve people’s lives.

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